Doing Life Together

checklist-2277702_1280We just completed a 360 evaluation with my co-workers and leaders. The purpose was to get feedback from colleagues to help us become better leaders. Several people who work with me were  asked to evaluate me on specific questions. The computerized program generates a profile of how others see you. The more feedback you get, the better. If the way you perceive yourself is very different than the way other see you, this can be difficult, but good to know. Whatever the results, you have information from those who work with you that you would probably never get otherwise.

Feedback is something that can be extremely helpful if it is done right. It can boost our performance and leadership. None of us like to hear negative comments, but if we handle them well, they can provide insight. Without the feedback, we might be unaware of things we do that don’t get  the results or cooperation we need. And good leaders should want to hear about weaknesses as well as strengths.

But when you hear negative feedback, it is not always easy to digest. It might conflict with how you see yourself. Common reactions are to get angry, cry, feel unfairly judged, maybe saddened by how we are viewed, making us more self-conscious. If the feedback isn’t done well, it can be demoralizing.

One of the most important issues tied to getting critical feedback is whether or not you trust the source. Is the person giving you feedback someone who is insecure, maybe jealous of you or just doesn’t like you? If so, the feedback might not be accurate. So what can you do if you are given critical feedback that doesn’t ring true or is hard to hear? Here are a few suggestions:

  1. First, decide if this is a trustworthy person who is generally fair in giving evaluations.
  2. If you value the person’s feedback, Take some time to think about it. Don’t just react. Is there anything that was said that might ring true for you or that could be helpful?
  3. Take it for what it is –someone’s opinion of you or your performance through their eyes. It’s one view and it doesn’t define you.
  4. If you aren’t sure you trust the source, get more than one opinion. Ask people you trust if the comments rings true to them.
  5. Do something to show you are working on making change. After all, the idea is to help you be a better you.
  6. Don’t avoid the people who gave you a negative evaluation or critical comments. Instead, use the information to reset a relationship and work on improvements.
  7. Ask for help, mentoring or coaching. Admit your weaknesses to those you trust and develop a plan to move forward.

If you handle feedback in a construct way, it can help you grow and improve your team work and leadership. Keep an open mind and defenses down. Remember, if done well, the purpose is to help you, not upset you.

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